On this day in Rotten History...
On this day in 1556 – (460 years ago) – a powerful earthquake hit the Shaanxi province of northern China — altering the course of rivers, causing massive floods, igniting fires, and causing landslides that destroyed countless hillside villages of traditional stone houses, known as yaodongs. In an affected area more than five hundred miles across, the Shaanxi earthquake killed an estimated 60 percent of the population, or some 830,000 people. It’s now believed to have been the deadliest earthquake in recorded history.
On this day in 1968 – (48 years ago) – the USS Pueblo, a US Navy spy ship wth eighty-three crewmen aboard, was captured off the coast of North Korea by warships of that country in an attack that killed one Pueblo crew member and ended with the other eighty-two sailors being taken prisoner. The North Korean government, arguing that the American vessel had violated its territorial waters, kept the Pueblo crew in captivity for the next eleven months, using torture and starvation to extract forced confessions. Meanwhile, the administration of US President Lyndon Johnson struggled to work out a diplomatic solution, while secretly
preparing contingency plans for war. In the end, the Pueblo crew was released after North Korea and the US worked out a complex face-saving solution in which the Pueblo commander, Lloyd Bucher, signed an apology immediately after repudiating it. Upon Bucher’s return to the United States, the Navy began a court-martial against him, but it soon backed down in the face of public outcry. As for the Pueblo itself, it’s now on permanent display at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang, North Korea.
On this day in 1978 – (38 years ago) – Terry Kath, lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band Chicago, who for some time had been struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, was fascinated by handguns, which he collected and enjoyed playing with. At a party in Los Angeles, Kath showed a roadie his unloaded .38, which he repeatedly held to his head, pulling the trigger. Kath then picked up a nine-millimeter semiautomatic and began to do the same. The roadie warned the guitarist to be careful, but to reassure him,. Kath showed him that the gun’s ammo clip was empty. He then held the gun to his head, smiled, and pulled the trigger.
Unfortunately for Kath, the gun had a bullet in its chamber, and he died instantly. He was thirty-one.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi